News Archive

Dr. Morcos Metry presents research paper at the Twenty-First IEEE Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics (COMPEL).

Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Morcos Metry, and Ph.D. Candidate Ms. Minjeong Kim presented their research on a closed-loop controller for the ripple port module integrated inverter at the twenty-first IEEE Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics on November 10, 2020. The workshop, which was held virtually, was originally scheduled to be in-person in Aalborg, DENMARK.

This paper presents a closed-loop controller using Model Predictive Control (MPC) for the ripple port module integrated inverter (RP-MII). The invention, development, and improvement of the ripple port inverters have been led by multiple REAPER lab members to mitigate the reliability issues associated with using bulky electrolytic capacitors at the dc link to filter out double frequency ripple. One challenge with the ripple port inverter has been its closed-loop control requiring multiple complex control loops with various objectives. This work presents a framework using MPC’s multi-objective feature to regulate the RP-MII using a single control loop. This work shows a reduction in dc-link capacitor sizes required from 800 uF to 16 uf, improving the RP-MII’s overall reliability as more reliable film capacitors could be employed.

This publication is based on research supported by the US Army Research Laboratory through the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics (IIP-1624539). This publication was also made possible in part by PDRA grant # 5-0422-19004 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of the Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Ph.D. Final Examination: Dr. Lance Alpuerto

REAPER Lab congratulates Dr. Lance Alpuerto for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation, “Non-Planar Photovoltaic Surfaces: Modeling, Optimization, and Application.” His research investigated the application of flexible thin-film photovoltaic (PV) materials conformed to curved surfaces. He developed a comprehensive modeling methodology to evaluate the potential advantages and disadvantages when applied to a non-planar surface. Using a multi-physics based approach, the major factors that influence PV applications are evaluated to predict the real-world operating conditions and electrical behaviors. The unique issue of self-shading, causing a mismatch in current density, on curved applications is addressed by creating an approach to optimize the interconnection strategy for improved performance. His work details a standardized and scale-invariant modeling foundation for the purpose of promoting future investigations into non-planar PV technologies.

Lance received his B.A. in Mathematics from Lyon College in Batesville, AR, in 2013 and then M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University at College Station, TX in 2016.

Professor Balog, Director of the Renewable Energy and Advanced Power Electronics Lab at Texas A&M University, reaches a career milestone of being a named inventor on twenty US Patents.

The REAPERlab congratulates Prof.Balog on his milestone achievement of being a named inventor on twenty US Patents. Most of these patents have been assigned or licensed to the industry and have already been or are currently being commercialized. Dr. Balog commented, “Scientific papers are an important part of the research process, but patents indicate the impact of the technology on society. A patent means that the idea is not only intellectually interesting, but it is useful and novel intellectual property that addresses a need in society.” The subject areas of Dr. Balog’s patents include lighting controls, power electronic control and circuitry, photovoltaic balance of systems including mechanical assembly of microinverters and PV module attachement methocs, cybersecurity, and arc fault detection.

Professor Balog and Dr. Zhan Wang named as inventors on a new US Patent for Arc Fault Detection.

Professor Balog and Dr. Zhan Wang were awarded US Patent 10,790,799 on September 29, 2020 for their invention entitled “Systems and Methods for Determining Arc Events Using Wavelet Decomposition and Support Vector Machines.” The patented technology was developed through research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. ECCS-1238412. This becomes the second technology in the patent portfolio developed by Dr. Balog and the REAPER lab pertaining to arc fault detection. The first patent, US 9,329,220, entitled “Method and System for Detecting Arc Faults and Flashes Using Wavelets.” was awarded in 2016.

Dr. Wang graduated with his Ph.D. from the REAPER lab, Texas A&M University, in December 2016; his dissertation was entitled “Arc Fault Detection in DC Photovoltaic Systems.” Prior to joining the REAPER lab, he received his B.Sc in Electrical Engineering – Electric Machines and Drives from Zhejiang University, China, in 2010.

Assistant Reseach Scientist Dr. Wesam Rohouma joins the College of North Atlantic Qatar as an Assistant Professor.

The REAPERlab congratulates Dr. Wesam Rohouma for his recent appointment as an Assistant Professor at the College of North Atlantic Qatar. Dr. Rohoum joined the REAPERlab as a Post Doctoral research associate in 2017 and was promoted to Assistant Research Scientist. While with REAPERlab, Wesam made many valuable contributions to not only the research projects but to designing and developing the reserach laboratory environement. While he will be missed, we congratulate him on the next step in his career and wish him all the best.

Qatar National Research Fund ‘Research Matters’ Newsletter features two TAMUQ electrical engineering undergraduate student researchers.

Texas A&M University at Qatar undergraduate students Fatima Al-Janahi ’20 and Rahul Balamuruga ’20 mentored by Dr. Robert S. Balog have been featured in the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) Research Matters newsletter for their award-winning Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) Thesis.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems are increasingly becoming popular as a renewable source of energy because they provide an alternative to traditional, non-renewable energy sources and are better for our health and environment. However, PV systems can be serious fire hazards and if a PV system catches fire, the risk it poses outweighs the benefits, as the fire can not only disrupt power supply but also cause considerable human and monetary loss. In recognition of the impactful outcomes of this project, two students from the research team, Fatima Al-Janahi and Rahul Balamurugan, were selected for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Outstanding Thesis Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) from the main campus of Texas A&M University.

Their research was supported in part by an Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grant # UREP24-023-2-010 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation).

Dr. Balog gives an IEEE Power Electronics Society Distinguished Lecture to the student branch chapters in Brazil.

As part of the IEEE Power Electronics Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Balog, REAPERlab Director, gave a webinar talk on June 20, 2020 to the combined Brazil Power Electronics Society (PELS) student branch chapters entitled “Opportunities and Challenges in the Balance of Systems for Photovoltaic Energy.” The talk examined the balance-of-systems in photovoltaic systems and highlighted a selection of current research and development activities addressing hard and soft BOS costs.

Dr. Balog wishes to thank the IEEE Power Electronics Society Brazil student chapter leaders for organizing and hosting the lecture as part of their PELS Day 2020 celebration.

Research Assistant Sawsan and undergraduate researcher Safin present research paper at the 2020 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC)

Research Assistant Ms. Sawsan Shukri and Undergraduate student Mr. Safin Bayes presented their paper entitled, “Parameter Extraction Testbed to Optimize Interconnections of Non-Planar Photovoltaics” at the 47th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), held virtually from June 15 to August 21st, 2020.

The paper presents results from an experimental study using a new experimental testbed that was developed to extract PV parameters in-situ. The experimental testbed is flexible, scalable, and suitable for research and development of non-planar PV applications. The benefit of this testbed is to collect data considering factors like cell aging, partial shading, and temperature effects. Such factors are not accounted for in the manufacturer’s datasheets. The experimental setup is used to obtain i-v and p-v curves of various PV array configurations to extract parameters that can be used model, simulate, and emulate the operation of the non-planar PV systems.

Undergraduate researchers Rahul, Fatima, and Oumaima present research paper at the 2020 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC)

Undergraduate researchers Mr. Rahul Balamurugan, Ms. Fatima Al-Janahi, and Ms. Oumaima Bouhali presented a poster on their paper titled “Fourier Transform and Short-Time Fourier Transform Decomposition for Photovoltaic Arc Fault Detection” at the 47th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), held virtually from June 15 to August 21st, 2020.

The paper presents the development of an automated arc generator testbed for the in-situ generation and analysis of DC arcs, and a comparison of the Fast Fourier Transform and Short-Time Fourier Transform in analyzing the generated DC arcs. Mr. ​Kais AbdulMawjood, project mentor, and Ms. Sawsan Shukri, a staff research assistant, assisted in mentoring the team. This publication was made possible by QNRF grant # UREP24-023-2-010 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation).

Undergraduate researchers Abdelrahman, Seif, and Nabila present research paper at the 2020 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC)

Recently graduated BSc. students Mr. Abdelrahman Amer, Mr. Seif Elgazar, and Ms. Nabila ElBeheiry presented their paper entitled “A Techno-Economic Study of Rooftop Grid-Connected Photovoltaic-Energy Storage Systems in Qatar” at the 47th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC), held virtually from June 15 to August 21st, 2020.

Their paper investigated techniques for optimal sizing of the photovoltaic and energy storage components for a residential-based hybrid system in Qatar. They added innovative techniques including load modulation which subtly reduced energy consumption during times of excessive storage depleted to ensure that the most critical loads remained serviced. This was show to further minimize overall system costs. The result of this study presents the implementation steps of an economically feasible PV-ESS grid-connected system in the State of Qatar. The significance of these results is to portray techniques that can be used to set energy policies in the State of Qatar. Dr. Morcos Metry, a PostDoc in the REAPERlab, and Ms. Sawsan Shukri, a staff research assistant, assisted in mentoring the team.

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